After being invited to their country home last Sunday, we now know why they're so calm, and why we look fifty years older than they do. Their country home has been in Sophie's family for many decades and is just half an hour outside Paris. They go there every weekend (and many weeks) to sit outside and sip beverages calmly while birds chirp and their children explore a large plot of land.
We, on the other hand, spend our weekends pushing through crowds of people just to buy toilet paper. Sometimes we have to shoo away clusters of tourists with cameras from our front door stoop just so we can go home. We oftentimes have to tell them to move their asses in several different languages. Birds? What the eff are "birds"?
When confronted, Michael admitted that yes, while they love living in Paris, they can't be there very often or they'll go crazy.
The original plan was to join them at the country house regularly, but since Lucien was responsible for some property damage (send us the bill, Michael, huzzah!) while we were there, that was most likely our first and only visit.
Lesson learned -- To enjoy living in Paris, get out of Paris as often as possible. (Consider leaving Lucien elsewhere.)
I want to go to there
I went to see Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris with a handful of The Ladies Monday night. Several of us witnessed the movie being filmed last year; Virginia Mom saw the crew at the Rodin Museum and I (almost) saw them filming outside Shakespeare and Company, but had my head down texting Alex about his missing mouthguard so missed the whole damn thing. When I walked into my writing workshop, everyone was bubbling over with excitement, "Did you see Woody Allen out there? He was just outside with a camera!!" Then I gritted my teeth and thought, "Curse you, Al, and your mouth that needs guarding."
The beginning minutes of the movie are a succession of Parisian street scenes, many of them filmed within a few minutes (if not seconds) of our front door. "We've walked that street a million times" all The Ladies said over and over, nudging each other and giggling. I expected to see a scene featuring Lucien flying around the corner on his scooter and clobbering a few unassuming elderly folks but nope -- guess Woody picked a rare "no scooter casualties" day to film our 'hood.
All of us ex-pat ladies experienced the same feelings as we watched it -- near-debilitating sadness and nostalgia for a place we haven't even left yet. Weird. It smacked me around a little, shook me by my delicate shoulders, made me realize how horribly I'll miss it when we're gone, regardless of how batshit crazy it makes me on any given day.
Lesson -- If you live in Paris for years, then leave Paris, any movies filmed in Paris will be unwatchable until the crushing depression of missing the place has lifted.
My friend and photographer extraordinaire, Chloe Lodge, is finished with her project, the one in which she followed me around and documented my life. Her school's end-of-year exposition was Wednesday night, so I went with Al and a couple of The Ladies. I was famous amongst her classmates in a "there's that damn woman whose face we've been staring at for months" kind of way.
Chloe is an incredibly talented photographer. You can see some of her work, including a few photos of her project with me and her expat women portrait project, at her website, www.chloelodge.com. (My favorite is the one where Virginia Daughter is holding her finger up in the air and telling me Lucien bit it. I'm swinging around with a "He did WHAT?" kinda look while Lucien tries to look nonchalant in the background. And...welcome to my life.)
Al and I went out for a late dinner after the exposition. We ate on a terrasse in the 11th arrondissement, in a neighborhood we've never been before. The waiter was friendly. Our fellow diners were friendly. One neighbor spilled his bottle of wine onto another diner's chèvre salad, and what followed was a very gentlemanly battle about who would pay for it. The spilled-upon man insisted he would still pay for his own salad, much to the spiller's chagrin.
I love witnessing scenes like that one -- people being human and gracious to one another. It reminds me the beauty of life lies in the little things, like spilt wine on goat cheese. Also beautiful was the sound our feet made running on pavement, trying desperately to chase down a taxi to get home at a decent hour for the babysitter.
That was hella deep, bet I just changed some lives right there.
Lesson -- Chloe Lodge is going to be very successful. And people are a lot friendlier in the 11th than they are in the 6th. And wine on goat cheese is profound.
One more. Lucien got in trouble the other day at school for pulling his pants down and running around the playground during recess. We hear it was a dare he was very happy to accept. He got lots of attention and laughs from the kids which, of course, is Lucien's joy. Whenever we bring it up, he laughs so hard he falls out of his chair. He doesn't seem to hear us telling him he can never, ever do that again.
Lesson -- We are so, so, so, so, so screwed.
I see... a rhinoceros, mes choux,
(Total Woody Allen joke.....if you see the movie, worship Adrien Brody for me.)
P.S. My blog is being attacked by more and more spambots. The spam is getting more sophisticated, oftentimes resembling a real comment. I can still usually tell right away because it starts with, "Thank you. This blog has really helped me" -- total tip-off, since we all know this blog has never really helped anyone.
Anyway, comments may take longer to appear, as I am going to dissect each one with a magnifying glass, wearing a monocle and holding a snifter of brandy.